Las Siete Lagos
Imagine a giant-sized, untamed version of Switzerland and you will get some idea of the phenomenal scenic beauty of Argentina’s Lake District. The 200-km (125-mi) drive from Bariloche on the southern shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi up to the mountain resort of San Martin takes you through two national parks along a winding road with panoramic views round every bend.
From the beautiful city of Bariloche, a scenic
70-km (40-mi) lakeside drive takes you to the charming resort town of Villa La Angostura, the starting point of the famous Ruta de las Siete Lagos (Road of the Seven Lakes). The road zigzags its tortuous way along the narrow river valleys and ridges of Nahuel Huapi, the oldest of Argentina’s national parks. The lower slopes of the rugged Patagonian mountains are swathed in evergreen coigiie forest, lightened by paintbox colours of wild flowers and shrubs – eye-catching daubs of yellow, red, orange and pink. The savage dark rocks and snowy peaks tower above you and, at every turn, just when you think you have seen the view of a lifetime, you are greeted with yet another incredible sight to take your breath away.
The road takes you through Villa Traful, a picturesque Andean village of wood and stone houses overlooking a turquoise lake, past Lago Escondido (Hidden Lake) twinkling behind its forest canopy, the twin lakes,Villarino and Falkner, joined by an isthmus, and the most beautiful of all, Lago Hermoso. At the entrance to Lanin National Park the landscape becomes drier, the thick evergreen forest gives way to southern beech woods, and you soon catch sight of the immaculately still waters of Lago Machonico. The road ends at the tranquil tourist town of San Martin, nestling among the mountains on the shore of Lake Lacar.
By car or bike
WHEN TO GO:
September to April; December for wild flowers in full bloom.
TIME IT TAKES:
One day by car. Three days by mountain bike.
Valle Encantada – strange rock formations.
Los Arrayanes National Park on peninsula of Lake Nahuel Huapi – forest of rare 300-year old and 20-m (66-ft) high arrayán trees, said to be Disney’s source of Inspiration for the film Bambi.
Lake Traful vantage point Vulllnaco Waterfall
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Lake District is a very popular area for sports activities. Cerro Catedral, near Bariloche, is one of Argentina’s main ski resorts. In the summer you can go sailing, rafting and fly-fishing as well as mountain hiking, horse riding, off-road driving and cyclin